For many adults and families experiencing homelessness, domestic violence is very common. For some, it can be the immediate cause of homelessness. This is where homeless service programs play a huge part in helping those facing food and housing insecurity. Some survivors of domestic violence may turn to these programs for emergency or temporary housing after fleeing an abusive relationship because they lack economic resources and or friends and family to rely on.
Domestic violence or intimate partner violence is not always only emotional or physical violence. Sometimes, abusers use financial stability as a way to be in control of their victims. Financial abuse is when a victim’s ability to work is restricted, or their abuser controls their access to money. This control over resources allows the abuser to monitor and limit a victim’s activity. So when victims leave their abusers, they often find themselves with no more money and loss of access to the place they used to call home.
When victims of domestic violence can leave their abusive counterparts, safe and affordable housing is one of the top concerns they may face. Without proper resources, many will find themselves among the homeless population. For many victims, this may be the first time in their entire life they’re unsure of where they will sleep at night. This experience can be disorienting and frightening.
While emergency shelters are great resources for those in need of immediate care, it is only a short-term solution. Alternatively, transitional housing programs can offer domestic violence victims housing options and supportive services such as counseling, childcare, transportation, life skills, and job training. This safe and affordable option can empower survivors in creating a new beginning for themselves and help them rebuild a life free from abuse. Without programs such as these, survivors often face the choice of having to return to their abuser or face homelessness.
While domestic violence can affect both men, women, non-binary people, women are more likely to experience some sort of intimate partner abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced severe intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or stalking within their lifetime.
While women are majorly affected by homelessness and are often victims of domestic violence, women are often not a major focus within resources and funding for the homeless population. They are typically only thought of as a part of other categories within the unhoused population, such as veterans, families, and youth. The further women are marginalized, the fewer services they will receive.
It is extremely important to make the connection between domestic violence and homelessness because without doing so, many men and women may never find the resources and help they need to survive. Understanding the impact of domestic violence on the homeless crisis is one of the many critical steps in helping serve this community.